Joana and Aaron

how we met

Joana and I first met at a mutual friend’s house party. She was brand new to Chicago and she didn’t know many people or anything about the city, so I obviously jumped at the opportunity to be her “tour guide”. We started off as friends (even though I knew she was special and this whole “friends” thing wouldn’t last long) and then eventually realized we were perfect for one another. The fact that we have an equal love towards sweets definitely helped the bonding process.

I knew I wanted to marry Joana after we had our first bump in the road. With other girls, I would typically move on, but with her something was different. I realized then that I didn’t want to, and couldn’t, spend the rest of my life with anyone but Joana. Also, the fact that we have an equal love towards sweets helps!

I first wanted to get Joana’s father’s blessing. We had a man to man conversation (I was so nervous), but it went really well and we shared multiple drinks and built a stronger bond after this discussion. Then I wanted to make sure the proposal included elements that highlighted the different aspects of our relationship. 1) I did the proposal with the Chicago skyline because that’s where our love started 2) we went to dinner at Nomi because that’s where we go for fancy occasions and she loves the views there 3) the Peninsula Hotel’s chocolate bar was the perfect end to the night. She has always wanted to go there (for 3 years) and I told her I would take her for a special occasion. I guess getting engaged was the moment I was waiting for!

how he asked

Aaron: Let me start off by humbly stating that I’m usually a pretty smooth and romantic guy. I tend to find the right words to say pretty easily, therefore I thought my proposal to Joana would be a piece of cake and something straight out of a fairy tale. Well… I definitely didn’t account for the fact that this would be the most important and life changing moment of my life; that fact completely changed the game.

The big day started off perfect. I executed my grand plan of giving Joana a set of love letters that would serve as segmented clues for our amazing Valentine’s Weekend celebration. These all worked out perfectly and I definitely kept her on her toes throughout the day. I definitely didn’t think she knew it was coming. After multiple clues and various treats along the way (home cooked breakfast, deep dish pizza, and little personalized gifts), we finally ended up gazing at the beautiful Chicago skyline. This is when I panicked. I honestly think I became a disaster and clueless with saying the speech I had planned because I didn’t practice the transition from standing and making small talk to the infamous bended knee position. (Guys – You need to think this through!) Because of this, I said a bunch of random thoughts that somehow came to my mind like “You know I love you” and “Man Chicago is nice huh?” and then rushed to my knee and asked her “will you make me the luckiest man and “Marry me?”

Even though it wasn’t very “Notebook”, she said yes and then she cried and laughed the rest of the night. I’d call this the best day of my life and one that literally had me speechless. So excited to marry this amazing woman and forever become A&J.

Joana: I knew today wasn’t going to be a normal day when I woke up to an envelope labeled “Morning” on my pillow from Aaron. To my surprise, I opened the letter to find only a simple set of “rules for the day” written on the inside cover.

Rule #1) Do not ask questions
Rule #2) No heels
Rule #3) Be/stay excited as it is going to be an amazing day

Little did I know that this was the first of many love letters throughout the day that would ultimately lead to a moment that would change the rest of my life. After having a fancy home cooked meal from chef Aaron, the morning letter was followed by a letter titled “Lunch”. As a Valentine’s Day tradition we always treat ourselves to our favorite deep dish pizza in Chicago, Pequod’s. It was actually where we went on one of our first dates, which is why it’s so special and so “us”. Fast forward to the evening, after a much needed food coma nap, Aaron’s next letter directed me to take a couple of hours to get dressed and ready for “Dinner”. He said we should get dressed up and be fancy. When I read this, I instantly felt my nerves spike and I began to think “what if?” I didn’t want to assume, but I started looking for the perfect outfit just in case. This was a huge fail! My stomach was that mix of knots and butterflies, which was just as nerve-racking as it was exciting.

When I finally was ready for dinner (almost an hour late) we took a ride by the Planetarium; my favorite view of the Chicago Skyline. As soon as we arrived, he gave me a letter labeled “Romantic”. The note suggested we take a romantic walk along the river and to remember to trust him. This is when he popped the question!

After crying uncontrollably and laughing with joy at the same time, I finally made out the words “YES!” I was on Cloud 9. A group of random folks, who stood nearby watching, shouted and cheered “Congratulations!” After a long night of champagne toasts (which led to the one hangover I was happy to have) and tears of joy, Aaron had one last letter for the night. It was labeled “Conclusion”. He noted: “today marked the day we start our journey towards forever”. And so we began our new exciting chapter together as Fiancés!

Special Thanks

Maypole Studios
photographer